We've long held that our kids are the cutest in the world. Indeed, check out this recent photo of Nate... And this one of Will...But one detail these photos reveal is their shagginess. Indeed, they've never really had a haircut in their lives. Their grandfather trimmed a little in the back last fall to keep them from having baby mullets, but that's it. So it was time to do the deed. Nate went first.You may notice that's not me back there manning the clippers. I've got a unsteady hand, and those babies are pretty squirmy. Not a good combination. So our nanny's husband offered to step in to help. Things actually went pretty well at first. Nate found the clippers ticklish. But that soon ended...But Nate endured...And was only a bit traumatized at the end.Then came Will, and the kitchen became a chamber of terror...Will hated getting his haircut.Blood curdling screams filled our home as we tried unsuccessfully to trim his hair.After what seemed like an eternity, the ordeal was over.Then it was cleanup time.And when they got dried off, it was hard not notice something (Will is in the red, and Nate is in the blue, for those keeping score at home.)...Nate and Will looked a lot less like babies and more like little boys.It was exciting to see, but a part of me mourned the passing of their little baby hairdos. It's just a reminder how quickly the time passes, and how fast they grow.And they're also much harder to tell apart with these new haircuts. So tomorrow morning should be really fun.
One rather comforting result of South Carolina's primary has been the voting public's rejection of some of the uglier aspects of this race. The Clintons have been mean and nasty and ugly over this past week. The idea was they could make the race do dispiriting that Obama's true believers would stay home. As it turns out, the mud slinging appears to have motivated more people to come out to the polls to vote against Hillary. Every now and then, there is a little justice in this world.
Saturday's result makes things even more wide open for the super-Tuesday contests on February 5th. Conventional wisdom says Obama has the momentum. But momentum hasn't meant jack squat this year. It's quite possible the race will look much more confusing on February 6th. But political nerds love when it's confusing.
It's not all that confusing for John Edwards, however. He's done. That's all there is to it. If he can't win in South Carolina, he's not winning anywhere. Edwards says he's not dropping out of the race, and I'm sure he's got his motivations. If he picks up enough delegates on Super-Tuesday, he may be able to be a power player in the event of a brokered convention (a term that makes political junkies pee their pants in anticipation).
On the Republican side, Florida looms large this Tuesday. Huckabee? Mitt? Rudy? McCain? Who knows? Polls say Mitt and McCain are running neck and neck in the state. This is certainly amusing as both men have had their political obituaries written at various times in the last 6 months. Rudy is going to lose, though, and that's a good thing. His "start in Florida" strategy was stupid. I flunked out of high school and I knew that. So it's a bit surprising that his high paid staff didn't figure it out. Allow me to be the first to say "good bye, Rudy, we hardly knew you."
The Democrats technically aren't allowed to campaign in Florida because of some stupid scheduling thing and the fact that their delegates won't be seated at the convention this fall. But I've got this feeling that Clinton will find a way around that. Perhaps some "well-meaning third party with no ties to the campaign" will just so happen to buy up some ad time and run pro-Clinton ads. I'd almost be willing to bet money on that.
When you consider there aren't even 50,000 people on the Faroe Islands, It's amazing the place has a television network at all. But there it is, Sjónvarp Føroya, the Faroe's public television station. It's the only TV station in the world to broadcast in Faroese. As I mentioned several months ago, The Daily Show can be found on Faroese TV, as well as Malcolm in the Middle and "24." But this week's voyeuristic look at the Faroe Islands concentrates on the country's homegrown programming.
Over the course of a few days, I've had a chance to sample each of SVF's programming (that's what the cool kids call it, SVF), and I understood almost none of it. That's likely because I don't understand Faroese, and SVF's shows are almost exclusively news and talk shows. So it's mostly people in rooms speaking Faroese.
That said, the programs have remarkably high production values when you consider they get almost all their money from a TV license fee. Their evening news show called Dagur & Vika looks like a normal local news program, except it's on a nicer set, more people are wearing glasses, and there are no helicopter shots of high speed car chases.
It's all pretty straightforward, and not every exciting if you can't understand the language. But there are two exceptions.
First is the ten minute news summary for the hearing impaired. SVF is already broadcasting to a tiny audience, and the hearing impaired audience must be a tiny sliver of that. But they broadcast it anyway, and I think that's pretty cool. To be honest this was maybe my favorite thing I saw. The guy sitting behind the desk, apart from using sign language, is making lots of exaggerated facial expressions, the most popular of which seem to be a grimace and frown. I have no doubt these expressions are important to communicate meaning when using sign language. But they looked a little silly coming from a news anchor. Overall, the effect was hypnotizing. I couldn't stop watching. I actually sat through the whole 10 minute broadcast.
The other gem was a children's program called "Krutl." In the episode I saw, a woman and a clown sit in an empty movie theater and shout a lot. Actually, the clown does most of the shouting. Then they were on the side of a fjord scooping fish into a little net. Then more shouting in the movie theater. Next up was a rather long video clip of children nailing together boards in some garage. More shouting in a movie theater follows. The last few minutes are takes up by what I'm assuming is kiddie mystery show called "Klu." I didn't understand any of it, but a lot of it was shot outdoors, and it was fun to actually see some of the scenery and architecture of Torshavn.
In honor of the video nature of this week's Faroe Friday post, I'm forgoing the Faroe photo and instead posting a video clip I found. It's just some guy driving around Vestmanna, but it gives you some small idea what many of the villages look like.
We Mormons are not a very funny lot. I guess I should clarify that a little bit. If you take a few steps back, we're hilarious. Our guilt burden places us somewhere between the Jews and the Catholics, but God won't let us drink to take the edge off. Then there's the peril of the single Mormon, especially the ones in their 20s and 30s.
The Mormon faith asks a lot of its young people. That whole "no sex before marriage" thing can be a major drag. A lot of Mormons get married in their late teens and early 20s, and it's not hard to see why. And the hearty souls that remain can become seething wads of sexual tension. There are people out there who believe homosexuality is an unnatural sexual practice. The reasoning being that it's doing something with the body for which it was not intended. Let me tell you, celibacy in your 20s is a far more unnatural sexual practice (or non-practice, as the case may be). The body is not designed to do that... trust me.
But I'm getting off on a tangent here. The point is that Mormons are quite funny, as in odd. But we don't have the best sense of humor. Jokes about the Mormon experience are not always greeted well within the community. Mormon taste in humor tends towards the cornball, "Donny & Marie" variety.
So you can imagine my delight when I was listening to This American Life this week and I heard a story about a woman working at a toy store in New York. The story was a funny yet poignant recounting of what happened when the store ran out of white babies before Christmas. I won't say anything more about it except you should listen to the whole thing yourself. (That mp3 will likely be up for only about a week or so, so don't drag your heels.)
At the end of the story, Ira Glass noted that the author had written a memoir called "The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance." A title like that can only have come from one of my people. A short Internet investigation found that Elna Baker is, indeed, Mormon. And the video clip on her MySpace page revealed that she is also very funny.
Below is some video of a show she did where she tells the story of the fateful Halloween dance from which the title of her memoirs apparently comes. It restores my faith that we Mormons may yet find a way to laugh at ourselves. After all, it's worked well for the Jews.
As I mentioned last week, we spent the holidays in the barren wasteland of Phoenix, Arizona. When we returned, Nate and Will were happy to see all their old stuff was still in the living room. I had some lovely captions to go with each photo, but I'm still pretty ill and need to get to sleep. So enjoy these photos. (For those keeping score at home, Will in in the Red, Nate is in gray.)
I'll butt in here for just a second to explain these final two shots of Will. Nate and Will have become quite enamored of a little rocking chair that sits in their bedroom. The chair actually belonged to me when I was a little boy and my parents brought it up here before our little guys were born. So here's Will in the chair.And Will with his teddy bear.That's all. Good night.
Political observers were anxiously awaiting election returns from three key places Saturday: Nevada, South Carolina, and the Faroe Islands.
In Nevada, Mitt Romney proved that the right hair can make the difference between defeat and victory. Also, it's nice to have Mormons on your side when running in a western state. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton proved that age and treachery will always defeat youth and optimism.
But the real action Saturday night was in South Carolina. John McCain pulled out a narrow victory against Mike Huckabee. McCain's comeback is nothing short of amazing, and I must say the more I see of him the more I like. The whole "straight talk" thing is actually working. Sure, Michigan voters beat him up for actually admitting that many lost Detroit auto jobs weren't coming back. But he was equally frank with South Carolinians (sp?) about the Confederate flag, and that didn't stop him from winning. With all he B.S. politicians spin, it really is refreshing to hear one of them talk to us like adults.
The Democrats have to wait a week to vote in South Carolina. I don't know why it works that way.
Nevada and South Carolina's results leave the presidential race as muddled (read: exciting) as ever. There are still four viable candidates on the Republican side, and two for the Democrats. And then there's Fred Thompson. I bet he wants to drop out of the race, but can't get up the energy to do so.
And what of Saturday's Faroese elections? What effect will they have on the presidential race? Probably none, but let's look at the results anyway.
Prime Minister Jóannes Eidesgaard's Fólkaflokkurin party was expected to lose power in the parliament, but it didn't happen. They still hold a majority in the world's oldest continuously meeting legislative body (their parliament is almost 1,000 years old), followed by Sambandsflokkurin, Javnaðarflokkurin, and, of course, Sjálvstýrisflokkurin. (Some of of you may think I came up with these names by smashing my face against the keyboard--I've been known to do such things--but it's not true.)
Tjóðveldisflokkurin should have done better, but nobody could pronounce it. A bunch of students formed a party called Miðnámsflokkurin , but they didn't win any seats. So I guess age and treachery edges out youth and optimism on the Faroes, too. I really love writing down the names of Faroese political parties, so here's another one: Miðflokkurin .
That's all the incisive political observation I can muster for a single night. I've got to get some rest and hope my laryngitis clears up before the 6 PM newscast tomorrow.
The holidays are well behind us and the normal rhythms of life are returning. So why not bring back that long neglected feature that has all the blog readers scratching their heads, Faroe Friday? It's the feature where I spout news and trivia from a set of 18 isolated islands in the North Atlantic that have never been to but am nonetheless obsessed with. This could probably be controlled with medication. But I do this instead.
Why not bring back the feature? I'll tell you why: because English language news from the Faroes is extremely difficult to come by. There has been a decided dearth of Faroes news over the last two months, and my best source for the stuff has been AWOL for about a month. So I'll attempt to dredge some up myself.
But after a little more digging, I actually did come up with an actual news story of some importance about the Faroe Islands: they're having an election on Saturday. Whether or not to declare independence from Denmark is the normally the big debate in Faroese elections, but that appears not to be the case this time. The economy is doing well, unemployment is very low, and Copenhagen is not stirring things up too much on the islands. So instead the election looks like a debate on the quality of local schools. Pretty much bread and butter stuff.
This weeks Faroe photo comes from Zinnie'sphotostream on Flickr. It's a photo of the capitol city Torshavn (population: 19,000). Zinnie has a lot of good photos of the Faroes on his stream. I think I'm quite jealous.
The Michigan primaries were tonight and I don't care. A bunch of rules made it a non-contest on the Democratic side (with Hillary edging out "uncommitted" by a surprisingly narrow margin). The Republicans gave the state to Romney. I'm too ill right now to know if this is the start of a Romney moment, or if it will be his last victory. (Probably the latter.)
So instead of giving sharp political analysis, I'm going to go to bed with the hopes I'll feel well enough in the morning to go skiing. I'll try to write more tomorrow. Until then, enjoy a set of election returns I'd really love to see in America.
Life has calmed down just enough from the holidays to allow some time to post some pictures. I know a sizable portion of visitors to this site come here for nothing but these pics. So allow me to offer a brief sampling of some holiday snaps taking during our recent travels.
In the past, Julie and I have taken fabulous trips to exotic locales like Venice, Singapore, and Vienna. Now we're married and have two kids, so instead we traveled to... wait for it... Las Vegas and Phoenix. The reason, not surprisingly, was family.
Here we see Will (left) and Nate (right) hanging out with their great-grandma Wanda. Grandma Wanda lives outside Las Vegas in a home with some pretty funky carpeting.During their brief stay in the Vegas area, the little guys met with some of their cousins, and bundled up against the sharp desert cold.(That's Will, by the way.)
In Phoenix, the little guys got to visit both sets of grandparents and get spoiled by frequent trips to the park.
Will and Nate really love riding on swings. Will can barely contain himself.And often times loses his hat in a fit of ecstasy.Nate likes it, too.And here we have a random photo of Will at the same park. I can't really think of a good way to tie it in to any of the others.This set of photos appears to be a bit Will heavy, but I guess that only makes up for and earlier set that was all about Nate. But in the interest of fairness, I'll share a short story about traveling with Nate.
First off, I should note that I really don't like traveling with our kids. I understand it becomes more fun as the years advance, but right now a vacation with Nate and Will is much more work than actually going to work. It can be a grind that wears me down in just a few days. The worst part is actually trying to get our little guys on an airplane. There are traveling productions of cirque dusoleil that don't require as much manpower and equipment as it takes to move our kids from town to town. Did I mention that I really don't like traveling with our kids?
On the way home, Julie and I spent most of the flight stuffing Nate and Will full of Cheerios. The idea was they were less likely to be screaming if their mouths were full. (The next morning we would learn what happens when you feed very small people massive doses of oat bran. It isn't pretty.) But there was one small portion of the flight where I didn't have to wrestle Nate (my charge during the flight) or stuff him full of cereal: the takeoff.
At some point during the taxi process, Nate noticed the window 5 inches from his face. Outside, there were all sorts of flashing lights and moving objects. He was fascinated. We sped down the runway and he didn't make a sound, he just stared out the window and watched the world whiz by him. When we lifted off, Nate's mouth opened slightly as the bright lights of Phoenix's urban sprawl appeared before him. He was mesmerized.
For as long as there were lights on the ground to be seen, Nate sat quietly with his face pressed against the window. Then it grew dark outside and he lost interest with the window and went back to finding ways to torture me. But for a few moments, I remembered why it's so cool having little kids: you get to relive the funnest parts of our world for the first time all over again.
It almost made the foul diaper that awaited us the next morning worth it.
It's not often I get to associate with professional athletes of any stripe. I'm not a sports reporter, and there aren't any professional sports teams in our little corner of Oregon. But there is exactly one professional sporting event, The Earl Anthony Medford Classic. And in case you didn't know, that's a pro bowling tournament. And as fate would have it, our station is a sponsor. And that means I got to participate in the tournament... the pro-am part of it, anyway.
The pro-am teams pro bowlers and people who are really bad at bowling. I fell into the "really bad at" category. But despite my utter lack of talent, I had quite a bit of fun at the event.
Perhaps the coolest thing was seeing a professional sport that hasn't gotten too big for it's own good. Fans were free to walk up to their favorite players, ask for an autograph, and even have a short chat. I was most surprised by the number of young kids who clearly had their favorite bowlers. Bowling never struck me as a sport kids followed, but I'm clearly wrong.
Now I know some of you are snickering at the idea of bowlers at athletes. I must admit, I may have been among the snickering classes just a few months ago. But after bowling three games in a row, well, I've had to change my tune. That's tiring, it really is. My arms, wrist, and shoulders were quite sore after I was done. And that was after three games. The pros play 7 in some days. I shall never mock a pro bowler again.
That's all for tonight. Baby pictures this weekend, and maybe even a return to Faroe Island trivia... assuming I can find any.
The voting is over in New Hampshire, and I must say I'm of two minds on the results.
The generational warrior in me who believes the baby boomers are ruining the country isn't happy to see any member of The Lamest Generation win anything. And in that respect, Hillary's razor-thin win in New Hampshire is kind of a disappointment. But the political nerd in me wants this race to go on as long as possible, so perhaps this isn't so bad after all.
Last night I read wire reports of Hillary's teary breakdown at a campaign appearance and thought, "this woman's campaign is falling apart." 24 hours later I hunted down the footage on YouTube and this is what I saw.
That's it? That's the big breakdown? It looks like nothing more than a few moments of studied vulnerability from a person who received the instruction to be "more human." Forget it and move on.
If there's anything to be taken from the primary process so far is that no one is unstoppable. A month or so ago, Hillary was the unstoppable force. On Monday Obama was a lock. Today, well, who knows.
The other lesson is that McCain isn't dead yet. Most major media organizations were writing his political obituary last summer. Now he's the golden boy again after winning the Republican primary in New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, a few questions remain. Will Rudi Giuliani's large state strategy work when everyone has been essentially ignoring him? Will anyone tell Fred Thompson that he's running for president? Will anyone unlock the patio door and let Mike Gravel in? He's getting cold out there.
Next week Michigan holds a stupid and boring primary that will feature only Hilliary on the ballot for the Democrats (the reasons for this are just too lame to be explained). Then Nevada holds a caucus that was supposed to be important, but everyone is ignoring it.
Then you've got South Carolina. With the Democratic and Republican races up in the air, South Carolina will be in important state for all he candidates (including Thompson if he wakes up). That's right, the people who brought you the Civil War are being trusted to pick the next president. I wonder how that will go.
Enough rambling for now. Some time this week I'll talk more about lonely, neglected Oregon, and why nobody cares who we vote for.
I've been up late two nights in a row covering breaking news, so the plans of writing here have been somewhat dashed. So I'm going to sleep with the promise of something worthwhile soon. Until then, enjoy this thing...
Yes, I'm still on vacation, but I had to weigh in on the start of the presidential race. I'm a political junkie, so I'm always excited by this kind of thing, but you don't have to be a nerd to agree that this is the most exciting presidential contest in about 100 years.
But let's take a look at the results. The big winners on Wednesday were BarackObama and Mike Huckabee. I'll start with Huckabee.
It's hard to find anyone who would have predicted a Huckabee win in Iowa just a few months ago. He's a governor from a backwater state with an "aw shucks" manner and a weakness for bad one-liners. But he won. And it was a pretty convincing victory, too. He finished about ten points ahead of Mitt Romney, who spent a ton of money there.
Rumor has it Huckabee doesn't have much of a national organization, so he may have a hard time translating this win into momentum in New Hampshire. But he may actually have staying power. I interviewed Huckabee several times while working as a reporter in Texarkana and I found him to be a very charming and personable guy. He might actually be headed somewhere.
On the Democratic side, the victory went to a guy from my generation. The first Gen-Xer to make a splash in national politics, BarackObama may well be on his way to becoming the nation's first black president. I can't wait for the Baby Boomers to lose their stranglehold on power, but that's another post for another day. The Democratic field is extremely tight, with John Edwards and Hillary Clinton essentially tied for second. Again, if you're a nerd, this is extremely exciting.
It's hard to read the tea leaves from a single in one small (in population, anyway), odd state, but it feels like the nation is looking for the candidate who is least like the current occupant of the White House. Who really is a uniter and not a divider. Who can help restore the name of America in the world. These certainly seem like positive developments. Of course, New Hampshire's primary is on Tuesday, and things may look completely different by then.
But some candidates won't be making the trip to the Granite State. Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd dropped out of the race after their showing (or lack thereof) in Iowa. Mike Gravel may have dropped out of the race, but it's likely no one noticed.
That's all for now. I must sleep and prepare for the awesome task of getting two toddlers into a crappy little regional let. Regular posting will resume next week, including regular doses of baby photos and obscure trivia about the Faroe Islands. Thanks for hanging on through the holidays.